U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today joined with leading advocates, Senate colleagues, and Suffolk County Legislator Jon Cooper and his husband Robert to introduce the Respect for Marriage Act. The legislation, authored by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and allow all couples in America to get married, and restore the rights of all lawfully married couples to the benefits of marriage under federal law.
"Every loving, committed couple deserves the basic human right to get married, start a family, and have access to all the same rights and privileges that my husband and I enjoy," Senator Gillibrand said. "I look forward to the day when all states accept this basic principle of fairness. I will work with my Senate colleagues to end the discrimination currently enshrined into US law and make marriage equality a reality for all."
Under current law, legally married, same-sex couples cannot take advantage of federal protections available to every other married couple in this country. These couples cannot:
* File joint Federal income taxes and claim certain deductions;
* Receive spousal benefits under Social Security;
* Take unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act when a loved one falls seriously ill;
* Obtain the protections of the estate tax when one spouse passes and wants to leave his or her possessions to another.
Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) introduced similar legislation today in the House of Representatives. Senator Gillibrand is co-sponsoring the Senate legislation authored by Senator Feinstein, which is also co-sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) John Kerry (D-Mass.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Dan Inouye (D-Hawaii), and Daniel Akaka(D-Hawaii).